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Data make a difference

We monitor our screens for the latest COVID-19 case counts while discussing the results of emerging scientific research on the efficacy of vaccines and other treatments. We discuss advanced election polls with excitement to predict who will lead our communities and our nations. We read articles about the latest trends in technology use, social opinions and behaviours, and perceptions of environmental changes, to make sense of a complex world. We check our social media to see if our engagement statistics have increased on our latest post, giving us a sense of purpose and belonging.

We are a data-driven society. While many important decisions are still made from the heart, we turn to data when we want to understand something beyond our own experience, when we want to persuade another person or group of our position, and when we want to make sure our decision-making is free (as much as possible) from personal bias.

Laurier is fortunate to hold and provide free, open access to Canadian polling data through our long-term partnership with Ipsos Canada, championed by alumnus and Ipsos Public Affairs CEO Dr. Darrell Bricker (BA ’83, MA ’84, Honorary LLD ’12).

Ipsos is a global leader in market research and public opinion, delivering reliable information and analysis related to the topics of society, markets and people.

“Ipsos believes it is important to share the information we have on the evolution of public opinion in Canada with a wide audience. This allows everybody to have access to the same high-quality information," says Bricker.

Since 2008, Ipsos has donated more than 130 public opinion polling data sets to Laurier for use by researchers and the public alike. Prized for its insight on Canadian politics and culture, the Ipsos Canadian Public Affairs Data Collection, housed in the Laurier Library and Archives, captures Canadian opinions, feelings and sentiment on a variety of topics including voting intention and behaviour; satisfaction with political leaders and feelings toward government; housing and real estate; Canadian heritage and culture; media consumption and attitudes toward vaccines, climate change and more. This data is available at

Through the Laurier Library and Archives, researchers and the general public worldwide can freely and openly access data in the Ipsos Canadian Public Affairs Data Collection. All data is curated by the Library’s team of data professionals, archivists and digital preservationists, with discipline specific input and guidance from the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP). The Collection is hosted online on Ontario Council of University Libraries’ (OCUL) Scholars Portal Dataverse and is easily discoverable through search engines like Google. For example, searching for “2015 federal election data” will bring a user to 2015 election polling data that Ipsos has donated to Laurier. Since 2016, Ipsos data has been downloaded more than 10,000 times for analysis by researchers and citizen-scientists.

“Ipsos’ gift to Laurier puts crucial Canadian polling data in front of researchers across Canada and beyond,” says Gohar Ashoughian, Laurier’s university librarian. “This is a very impactful partnership, through which Ipsos and Laurier are working together to bring rich data collections of tangible value to a national and global stage.

“Having lived through the pandemic for almost two years now, we anticipate that Ipsos has collected a treasure trove of COVID-19 data. We are looking forward to receiving this data that will be of particular significance in the pandemic-recovery era; timely collection and access to this data will contribute to positive economic and health outcomes post-pandemic.”

Ipsos’ gift of data is not only timely, but also highly accessible to both new and experienced data users. Each poll includes an SPSS file to enable analysis by subject matter experts. In most cases, these datasets are also packaged with additional documentation that lends context to the data and its interpretation – at the time of the survey was taken as well as today. Ipsos has generously included questionnaires, reports, slide decks and statistical tables, all of which are rich, highly usable primary material for researchers who may not have a background in statistical analysis. These additional materials help non-technical researchers understand and interpret the data as not only polling results but also documents that are a lens into the mood of the Canadian public, and into public opinion polling itself.

Laurier faculty research publications which made use of Ipsos data cover topics such as provincial elections, LGBT voter behaviour, carbon pricing and integration of new Canadians.

The datasets are also a valuable teaching tool applicable to diverse range of disciplines and many courses held at all Laurier campuses, including Political Science, History, Economics, and Journalism. Most recently, a Political Science student wrote a paper that examined the role of social media in the 2018 Ontario election using Ipsos data. This paper became a conference presentation.

“The strength of Laurier’s research community is built on a foundation of dedicated supporters like Ipsos," says Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, president and vice-chancellor of Laurier. "This generous gift of polling data has been crucial to the success of many research and academic programs at Laurier. We are deeply grateful to alumnus and Ipsos Public Affairs CEO Dr. Darrell Bricker for his dedication in supporting this partnership and his long commitment to Laurier.”

As the world continues to change at a rapid pace, we are grateful for our continuing partnership with Ipsos Canada, and particularly to Dr. Bricker for his tireless support for our researchers and students through this valuable dataset. We encourage any faculty, student or alumni who may have an interest in using this data to contact the Laurier Library and Archives. With timely data and astute analysis, we can truly make a positive difference in our communities.

Did you know? Ipsos regularly publishes ongoing data on emerging trends of interest to Canadians in an engaging, user-friendly format. 

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